Market Development

Category Management

Whilst we recognise the contribution that partners have made in maintaining a sustainable market that provides high quality, cost-effective services to meet individuals needs, in a climate where we are seeing an increasing population, rising levels of complexity and public sector spending cuts, we believe there is a need to further develop the way we commission social care and support services.

We are looking to implement the principles of category management, which is a process whereby services are grouped together. Each group of services is looked at to identify the most effective way of delivering high quality, cost-effective services that meet individual needs.

Our Category Management processes will be developed over the next year or so, but for your information, please find below some background to our approach.

If you have any queries or would like more information, please contact Mark Houston,, telephone 01962 845616.

Service Categories

The adult social care and support services that are purchased or provided by Hampshire County Council (HCC) will be categorised (as at November 2012) into a small number of over-arching categories that will be further sub-categorised. These will be:

  • Support at Home and in the community (sub categories - Domiciliary Care and Support, Community Based Support, Housing Based care and support and Home Improvement).

  • Universal offer (sub categories - Information, Advice and Guidance, Advocacy, Peer Support and User and Carer Involvement).

  • Residential and nursing beds (subcategories Permanent Residential Care, Permanent Nursing Care and Reablement Beds).

  • Social Exclusion and Community Safety (sub categories Homelessness/Crisis Support, Drug and Alcohol, Offender Services and Victim Services).

A full list of the categories, sub categories and scope of each of the categories



The category management process has 3 stages:

Category Planning (also known as a Strategic Review) (Steps 1-8)

Identifying needs and what services are currently available to meet needs, and then identifying and what can be done to fill any gaps.

Implementation (Step 9)

Taking actions to deliver the services that are required to meet the identified needs.

Monitoring delivery and developing services (Step 10)

This involves collecting information on what is being delivered.

Further details of the steps involved in each of the three stages Microsoft Word 81kb


The changes

How does Category Management differ from the current commissioning process and what are the benefits?

The new process differs from the current process in the following ways:

  • All services of a similar type (regardless of the section of the HCC which purchases them or the geographical area in which the service is delivered) will be reviewed (and where necessary redesigned) at the same time. Any subsequent tenders will also be planned at the same time. Apart from in exceptional circumstances, all contract end dates in future will be purposely set so as to allow this. There may be times though when services are commissioned outside of the phase cycle, for example if HCC obtains ring-fenced grant funding becomes available which has to be used for a specific purpose. There will be an increased focus on stakeholder engagement, with more consistency around when and how stakeholders will be involved in evaluating needs and making decisions around how services are delivered.

  • There will be more consistency around how services are monitored, enabling HCC to benchmark services and drive up standards to improve outcomes for service users.

We hope these differences will give rise to the following benefits:

  • More effective service delivery, whereby similar services complement each other to meet holistic needs.

  • A more sustainable market - due to providers having more certainty of what volumes of business HCC will require and what price HCC will offer over a 4-year period – leading to more choice for service users.

  • More clarity around when opportunities will be available for providers to attempt to enter Hampshire’s care market or increase their volume of business with HCC.

  • More opportunities to gain from economies of scale.

  • More opportunities for Small & Medium Enterprises, Black and Minority Ethnic Led Groups and User Led Organisations to provide services.


Stakeholder engagement

We recognise that while we work with a diverse range of stakeholder groups and have a wide range of mechanisms to communicate with and engage people outside of the County Council, a number of people have fed back to us that they feel the current engagement mechanisms would not enable all interested parties to meaningfully contribute to the category management process.

We would therefore welcome the opportunity to work with interested stakeholders to develop an approach that enables stakeholder involvement in category management to be meaningful and accessible to all. During the first quarter of 2013, we will be exploring ways forward with our statutory partners and the county’s stakeholder umbrella groups, including Hampshire Voluntary Sector Consortium, Hampshire Care Association, the Preferred Panel of Providers Network Groups, the Supporting People Provider Forum and the Personalisation Expert Panel.

Next Steps

Since category management is a new approach, the timescales of existing contracts and planned service reviews are not currently in sync with the phase cycle given below. Consequently, we will omit the following services during the first four years of category planning, and then include them in the category plans from 2017 onwards:

  • Older persons residential reablement services

  • Telecare

  • Extra-Care Housing

  • Mental Health Wellbeing Centres

We are aware that some contracts end before the services are scheduled to be reviewed through category planning. We will manage this through:

  • Carrying out some reviewing activities outside of the above timetable.

  • Look to offer extensions to certain contracts, where HCC is satisfied with the quality and price of existing provision.

Providers who will be affected by extensions and/or other reviews will be contacted individually by HCC.

We intend to contact all residential and nursing care stakeholders before 1 April 2013 to confirm the expected timescales for the review.

We aim to contact other stakeholders several months before each review begins to advise of the expected timescales.


We aim to carry out category planning through the timetable below.

Category Management - Next Steps - Timetable

Printable version of the Next Steps - Timetable Microsoft Word 52kb


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